Chinese pro-democracy activist and survivor of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre Rose Tang warned the world that the Chinese Communist Party is the “world’s largest terrorist organization” in an interview commemorating the event on Friday with the human rights magazine Bitter Winter.
Tang recalled watching an army of tanks crush student-erected tents – and those inside them – and navigating piles of bodies in an attempt to escape. People’s Liberation Army soldiers killed not just student protesters and dissidents, but any civilian in range, she recalled, including children.
Friday marks the 32nd anniversary of the massacre, prompted by unarmed, peaceful protests in the twilight years of the Soviet Union demanding the Chinese government move away from communism. Chinese officials have refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the event or allow independent observers to properly study the true toll of the killings, so no accepted death toll exists, but leaked documents from the time suggest the military killed at least 10,000 people on June 4, 1989, in the square itself. The toll does not count those killed in hospitals after being wounded or killed in operations elsewhere in Beijing. As the Communist Party declared Martial Law against the protesters on May 20, the military had begun killing and disappearing dissidents in the weeks leading up to the singular massacre on June 4.
Tang, who now lives in New York but continues to advocate for freedom for the Chinese people, was 20 years old when she was present at the massacre and told Bitter Winter she lost one colleague, a 19-year-old, to what she called a “full-on military operation” against unarmed civilians. She noted that the perpetrators – the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops – were likely younger than the people they were killing, themselves mostly young college students.
“It was like going through a war zone,” she said of the streets surrounding Tiananmen Square. “Burning buses and trucks scattered around, people were re-arranging roadblocks preparing to stop more troops.”
The roadblocks did not succeed, destroying what she described as an otherwise uneasy peace in the square itself.
“After midnight, a burning tank, chased by rock-throwing crowds, rattled into the square and bulldozed roadblocks in front of the Great Hall of the People,” Tang detailed. “All lights went off, Tiananmen was like a giant dark stage backdrop lit by burning tanks. Suddenly, droves of soldiers scuttled out like ants from under the Great Hall of the People. All the lights were turned on at the same time, followed by the deafening noise of tanks thundering toward us from three directions.”
“Soon the soldiers started to bludgeon us. I was pushed and pulled, carried by the stampede. Amid screams and thuds, my chest was squeezed, my glasses smashed on my face,” she recalled. “I could only see blurry streetlights above the black silhouettes of people around me. I suddenly regretted coming to the square and wished there were a God to save me.”
“I trampled over a few bodies, none of them moved, perhaps dead. I was dragged along by the mob that was moving like a huge ball of ants,” Tang noted. She recalled soldiers opening fire with machine guns into the crowd, clearly an attempt to kill as many as possible.
“We drove through the outskirts of Beijing to avoid troops, but they were everywhere, even in wheat fields. It was a full-on military campaign,” Tang described. She added that local residents came out to the streets to help the students, and one told her that they witnessed the military execution of a 12-year-old girl who had been in the street along with her five-year-old sister at the wrong time.
In the Bitter Winter interview, Tang warned that the brutal nature of the Communist Party has not changed since 1989.
“Today’s China, like yesterday’s China, is still the world’s biggest prison,” Tang argued. “China is a dictatorship and colonial power that is more dangerous and vicious than Nazi Germany. It has been thriving thanks to appeasement from the Western governments and courtship from multinationals.”
“China is not what a nation should be. It is a black hole. Not a market either for goods or services. It is another planet. Do not go there. Do not invest in it,” Tang warned.
Tang’s recollections echo the harrowing testimony of others there at the time. Writing for Breitbart News in 2019, the 30th anniversary of the event, diplomat Fred Gedrich described watching unarmed protesters attempt to defend themselves against armies of tanks threatening to steamroll them.
“Against overwhelming odds, those sympathetic to the freedom movement fought back without weapons,” Gedrich, who watched from his hotel room window in Beijing, recalled. “Some attempted to stop the tanks by erecting barricades and blowing up cars, buses, and trucks on the street in a futile attempt to prevent the convoy from moving forward. Eventually, the troops in the tanks used machine gun fire to disperse demonstrators and, for good measure, directed a few warning shots towards our hotel to prevent Westerners from observing what was happening.”
Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher, also present in China at the time, told Breitbart News in a 2019 interview that the killings continued outside of Tiananmen Square.
“The hospitals were overflowing with the dead and wounded. But the next day, the hospitals were emptied out,” Mosher detailed. “The wounded were taken out — even those who were on life support who shouldn’t have been disconnected from their IVs — were all taken away in army trucks and never heard from again. They emptied out the hospitals of all the dead and wounded to try to destroy the evidence, and that’s exactly what they did.”
In the streets, Mosher recalled, “there were tanks rolling into crowds of people at high speed, crushing them into literally hamburger. The streets had to be scraped afterwards with bulldozers to get off the remains of the human beings who were killed by these tanks that ran over them. The butchery was horrible.”
For decades, Chinese officials denied the killings. The Communist Party continues to heavily censor mentions of the incident to this day, creating widespread ignorance of the event within China.
“From news media to teaching materials, this topic has been deliberately erased from textbooks, media, and other public domains,” a Chinese high school teacher identified only as Zhen told Radio Free Asia in an interview published Thursday. “The average child, the younger ones, have never heard of it. Others may have heard of it, but they don’t know the causes and the full story of the tragedy as it unfolded at the time.”
“The new generation now only pays attention to money, eating and drinking and having fun,” Zhen lamented. “Everyone is always on their mobile phones, liking this or that.”
In the past two years, Chinese state propaganda has actively discussed the massacre, however, celebrating it as a success for communism. Describing the massacre – while continuing to deny its true extent – as a source of “pride” for China, the state-run Global Times argued on Friday that the killings “inoculated the Chinese people with a political vaccine, helping us acquire immunity” from democracy.
“Tiananmen Square embodies the Chinese people’s confidence and pride in the politics of the country, and it is a symbol of China’s unity as well as the country’s independence and increasing prosperity,” the propaganda outlet declared.